New NFL Stadiums Are Costing a Trip to Pluto and Then Some

Dan Carson@@DrCarson73Trending Lead WriterJuly 17, 2015

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Science is expensive. 

Tracking the polar ice caps, analyzing the heavens—it all takes equipment and people smart enough to use it, which in turn costs boodles and oodles of dollars.

The Large Hadron Collider doesn't run on smiles, and projects aimed at figuring out the "hows" and "whys" of our universe can run up big enough tabs to make even the most wealthy and ambitious nations take a step back for some cold, cost-benefit analysis.

Still, projects like the New Horizons expedition—which traveled past Pluto this week and sent back stunning images of the downgraded dwarf planet—provide important data that help broaden our understanding of our solar system.

The New Horizons mission cost about $700 million in total, per NASA. It's a heady number, and it sounds like a lot until you consider the potential of what it's unearthed. According to CNN's Amanda Barnett, pictures taken by New Horizons show what appears to be ice water on Pluto.

Water could mean life! Life would mean aliens! Aliens.

So, while expensive, the findings give us another piece to a huge puzzle and will inform future space expeditions as we continue to explore the galaxy.

And, if you're like me, and your mind tries to place everything into a concrete, sports-centric context, look at it this way: The mission to Pluto ended up costing significantly less than the new stadium being built by the Minnesota Vikings.

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Total cost of U.S. Bank Stadium will run approximately $1.027 billion—about $327 million more than the New Horizons expedition, which was launched in 2006.

And, because you can't mention stadium price without the particulars, the stadium's cost is being split almost evenly: 52 percent of the stadium is being privately funded, 48 percent will come from public funds.

So, for 68 percent of the cost of a new football stadium, you can send an expedition past what used to be the farthest planet in our solar system. 

Continuing this line of comparison, New Horizons cost 44 percent of the amount spent on the New York Giants and Jets' new Meadowlands stadium, which was erected in 2009 for $1.6 billion.

You can also hold up Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, completed in 2008 for $719.6 million—about the same price as a trip to Pluto—with $619.6 million coming from the city coffers.

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

All of this isn't to say that the new, retractable-roofed, freon-bathed meccas of sport should be struck down, or that funding, public or private, should be instead put toward hurling expensive cameras at the stars. 

But using something like New Horizons as a measuring stick helps you appreciate the incredible financial heft of these modern coliseums. It serves as a reminder of just how much keeping up with the Jerry Joneses costs today.

These are more than stadiums; they're monuments to sports' titanic presence in society and proof of what our eyes and minds most urgently desire.


Dan is on Twitter. He'd settle for sending a paper airplane down the hall.

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